Chapter 2: Classifying the stock of genetic resources and ecosystems: their economic nature and patterns of biodiversity change
Although biological taxonomies of living organisms are useful, other types of classification can be of greater help when considering the nature and economics of biodiversity change. Simple classifications are outlined in this chapter which make it clear that our current stock of genetic resources and ecosystems only consist partly of natural capital. Some (probably most) of our highly valued genetic resources and ecosystems are primarily the result of human effort and investment. This is not to suggest that natural genetic resources and ecosystems cannot be very valuable from an economics point of view. In fact, they usually have greater total economic value than is commonly realized. For example, natural wetlands and swamps are frequently seen by members of the general public as being of little or no economic value, but as pointed out in the Report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) (de Groot et al., 2010, pp. 379–83), they often prove to be very valuable when all (or many of) their ecosystem services are accounted for. Although some transformations of natural ecosystems by humans have reduced their total economic value, other transformations have added considerably to the economic value of biosphere use, despite these transformations not always being ideal.
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